Last week I decided to spend a day driving round the Cotswolds. My intention was to not stray too far from Banbury as I was staying with a friend in Northampton. But I somehow ended up driving almost 200 miles during the day between lots of villages in the east of the Cotswolds. I found this gem, Blockley, which is in Gloucestershire. I’d never heard of this town before and not seen it on Instagram either. So happy I stumbled upon it, it was beautiful. Hard to photograph though due to parked cars 🚗
Whilst the town seems like it has always been a peaceful place, it was actually once very industrial (albeit still beautiful). The brook that runs past beautiful honey coloured houses once fuelled no less than 12 mills. It’s easy to look at history in a romantic sense. I always imagine these places filled with men in top hats, flat cap wearing chimney sweets and horse and carts. But the reality was often darker, children as young as 8 were employed to work in these factories.
During the Industrial Revolution these children were often part of very poor families. In order for these families to live and work, they would be housed in ‘workhouses’. Men and women were separated, as were the able-bodied and infirm. Those who were able to work did so for their bed and board. Women took on domestic chores such as cooking, laundry and sewing, while men performed physical labour, usually stone breaking, oakum picking or bone crushing. Conditions were basic: parents and children were permitted to meet briefly on a daily basis, or on Sundays. Inmates ate simple fare in a large communal dining hall, and were compelled to take regular, supervised baths 🛁